We are now recommending that all dogs be vaccinated against leptospirosis due to the potentially severe nature of the disease and the increasing numbers of cases we are seeing on the Central Coast. Leptospira bacteria can cause severe, sometimes permanent, damage to the liver and kidneys of dogs, humans and other animals.
The bacteria can be spread through the urine of infected rodents, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, opossums and other common wildlife. Your dog can develop leptospirosis after contact with water or soil contaminated with the bacteria. Humans can also be infected via contact with contaminated urine, water, or soil.
Initial clinical signs and symptoms of leptospirosis in dogs may include flu-like symptoms (fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, weakness and muscle pain). Severe cases can lead to damage of the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system, and even death.
Reduce the risk of leptospirosis by:
• Vaccinating your dog
• Avoiding water that may be contaminated with the bacteria, especially stagnant water
• Thorough hand washing for you and your family—especially when handling anything that might have urine on it
The vaccine is administered as follows:
Dogs that have not been previously vaccinated against leptospirosis should receive two doses of vaccine 3-4 weeks apart, and then receive an annual booster. Puppies may be vaccinated at as young as 6 weeks of age, although for most dogs, we recommend starting at 12 weeks of age or older.
Additional information regarding leptospirosis is available from the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/leptospirosis/.
Why am I just hearing about this now?
Leptospirosis is a disease that we have been monitoring for many years now on the Central Coast and we have been recommending vaccination primarily for “high risk” patients like hunting dogs. Leptospirosis has increased in prevalence enough at this time that UC Davis has just recently announced that it will be part of their “core” vaccination protocol recommendation for all of California. We take vaccination very seriously and never want to recommend a vaccine until we are sure that it is: 1) necessary 2) safe 3) effective. We have seen several cases of leptospirosis in SLO county in the past year and expect this number to continue to rise. We also now know that it’s not just dogs with lots of wildlife exposure that are at risk: we have seen increasing numbers of cases in smaller breeds and house dogs with no known wildlife exposure. Additionally, the newer vaccines have been proven to be much safer and more effective than those used historically.
Thanks you for taking the time to read this important information. For a limited time, we will be offering the opportunity for our patients to receive this vaccine as a technician appointment (without a physical exam) as long as they are in good health and have been examined by one of our doctors within the past 12 months.
Please call us to schedule an appointment for your dog’s leptospirosis vaccine today!